Building the Butterfly

“The caterpillar is a necessary stage but becomes unsustainable once it’s job is done. There is no point in being angry with it and there is no need to worry about defeating it. The task is to focus on building the butterfly, the success of which depends on powerful positive and creative efforts in all aspects….” Elizabet Sahtouris 

butterfly (1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about butterflies lately. Like there aren’t far more important things, right? I know it’s weird but whenever something sticks in my mind like this I usually know that God has something for me to share. So stick with me on this one even if it gets a bit ‘science-y’ okay? It’s fascinating. Truly.

It started when I went to see my dear friend and business partner, Patti, in the hospital after she suffered a horrible car accident. This was not the type of accident where you have a few broken bones and some whiplash. This was a stay in the hospital three weeks, wheelchair, home care nurse,six month rehab, let’s hope you heal normally type of an accident. LIFE Altering!

One of the first things she said to me in the hospital was, “I just want to hurry up and get this (recovery) over with!” Well, yeah! I mean, who wouldn’t ?! As I looked around her room at the cards and children’s drawings meant to cheer her up I noticed how many butterflies were on them. Patti. Loves. Butterflies. They are all over her house. And I thought, how funny that we always see the beautiful butterflies but not the cocoon.

As a culture we are obsessed with the pretty. Me included. #shinysyndrome .We love the ‘before and after’ photos of people who’ve gone from obese to gym beast. We can relate to a Before photo and we  desire to be the After, but we ignore the getting there part. Why do we celebrate the butterfly and despise the chrysalis? It’s in the butterflies getting there stage that all the magic happens. That’s when I realized how much we have in common with these little winged creatures.

Butterfly 2

Although we can’t see it, I’d imagine that being stuffed in a cocoon is  cramped , uncomfortable, and dark. Isn’t this pretty much how we feel when going through a transformation? I know I do!  The stretching , molding, breaking down and building up again into a new creation generally sucks when it’s happening. It’s painful. Caterpillars can totally relate to this.  (Get ready! Science-y part coming!) Inside the cocoon, they go through a stage called histolysis which is defined as “the breaking down [of tissues] during the process of metamorphosis.”  Ok, first off , Eewwww!!! Secondly, Holy wow! have I been there! The last 15 years of fully turning my life over to God I’ve changed in a million ways. Every habit , attitude, or belief I hold now required the tearing down of one I held before. Old dreams perished and new ones were fashioned. Goals I’d had, no longer seemed worthy of pursuing. Huge parts of me had to disintegrate and die in order for new ones to be born. People knew something was going on WITH me but they couldn’t see what was going on IN me. And, just like Patti, I wanted to hurry up the ‘getting there ‘ process and reach my ‘After’.

Ok, here’s my last ‘science-y’ butterfly fact. When I read it, it blew my mind. Inside of these insects are structures called Imaginal Discs.These discs are responsible for the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. They are what actually becomes the wings. AND they are only activated once they are in the cocoon!  Why does a caterpillar even form a cocoon? I’m so glad you asked…. Because they run out of something called juvenile hormone. Basically, their carefree days of living off the tree and eating free leaves are over and they have to get out and get a job.Seriously, I’m not making this up. Can’t you see how this is so much like us?

At some point, being juvenile doesn’t serve us -it stunts our growth. God knows the potential He’s placed in us and He loves us too much to let us stay as children in our faith. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like He loves us because the whole ‘getting mature’ thing is even More painful than staying immature. For me,I wanted IMMEDIATE change, not months or years of angsty self examination. I reached out to God looking for light and freedom and it felt like He put me into a dark crampy cocoon. Then He made me stay there. Well, I really made myself stay in the dark. I remained until all the lies I’d believed about myself were crushed and my mind was renewed with God’s truth of who I really am. I am made in God’s image and everything I needed to be a butterfly was already in me.

Because here’s the thing about us humans, we will happily walk around consuming things of this world until something forces us to seek God and the change that comes with that. We don’t just wake up one day and think, ‘Today I want to question all my motives, goals, and relationships. Then I’ll reexamine my dreams and where I put my finances. Yeah! This is gonna be awesome!” #no  . It takes the cocoon; the journey through the dark, to find your wings. When your time comes to go through transformation, embrace it. It’s in the dark that we find the power of Christ that is in us. It’s that power that will give you your wings.

renewing-your-mind-3-728

A Declined Invitation

Have you ever had someone turn down your invitation to join you for a party or an event? It stinks, doesn’t it? I mean, the whole point in asking them to come is because you want to be with them. You want to share the experience with them. Partake in the enjoyment of it together.

This happened to me last week. I sent an invite to someone I really wanted to spend time with. It wasn’t just that they declined, they didn’t even bother to respond.Initially. I gave them the benifit of the doubt thinking they must not have seen the invitation.We’ve all missed evites that got buried under the spam mail, right? So, when I saw them I asked, ‘hey, did you see my invitation? I didn’t want you to miss it!’ Yep….they’d seen it. Seen and Dismissed. Ouch! Not only did they not answer, but they couldn’t give me an explanation as to Why they didn’t want to attend. All I got was shrugged shoulders and a mumbled “Idunno’. Dannggggg ya’ll. I’m not going to lie, I was pissed. And hurt. RSVP

Issuing an invitation entails a certain degree of trust.

You trust that:

they will share your interest

they will make an effort to attend if possible

they will, at the very least, RSVP.

Here is the thing about Invitations though. They come with options.

Yes. No. Maybe.(like those notes we passed in elementary school)

Invitations don’t guarantee someone’s presence or participation. They are not commands bereft of  a choice. The invited are allowed to exercise free will.

And really isn’t this the way it should be? If I invite someone to be with me I want them to attend with the same enthusiasm that I invited them with. Attendance out of obligation is meaningless.

Issuing an invitation is an act of vulnerability. We put our hearts out with every invite by offering a piece of ourselves to the other person. We are saying ‘I want you. You matter to me and I want to share some of my time with you’. That’s why it hurts so much when we get declined.It doesn’t just feel like a negative response to the event it feels like a rejection of US.       expectation

So, as I was licking my wounds and being really ticked off, I started wondering how God would want me to respond. I was pretty sure that my initial reaction of being sullen and snarky wasn’t the proper way to handle it. It made me think of how many times He issues invitations to me that I decline. Or invitations I don’t even acknowledge. How many times does God beckon me to come spend time with Him? How many times has He asked me to do something with Him and I just hit delete without responding? The awesome thing about God not being me is that He never gets sullen and snarky about my lack of response. He just keeps inviting as if I never rejected Him. He’s far more secure in His worth than I am in mine.

In thinking of how God responds to me I came up with a few guidelines for me to remember when my invitations get rejected:

A negative response does not determine my worth or value.It’s never personal When I say no to God it doesn’t mean I don’t love Him. My response is solely based on what I’m feeling or focusing on at the moment. Yes, I know that’s selfish. Don’t judge me.

My joy is not based on their presence or absence. I have expectations of people and when they aren’t met I get hurt and disappointed and sad. I don’t think God has these unrealistic expectations of us. He wants us to decide to be with Him. I believe He’s delighted for US when we choose to accept His invitation but I don’t think it ruins His day when we don’t.

I can’t control what people will say Yes to or when.I can only hope they will. And they will, when the time is right for them. I say ‘yes’ to God when I’m ready. He doesn’t try to control my decision, He just keeps issuing the invitation. No pressure. No expectations. Just patient and continual offering. He doesn’t give up on me because I initially reject His offer. He knows that being with Him is awesome!  (that is some amazing self esteem) The ones who think that being with me is awesome will accept my invitation. The ones that keep ignoring it…well they’re going to miss out but it’s no longer going to ruin my day.god pursues

I’ll be honest. Even with this insight my feelings are still bruised. Except now instead of being a deep purplish one it’s turning into a pale yellow one. A few more days and I should be healed. Maybe next time I’ll dodge the blow altogether.

 

 

 

9 Things I’ve Learned Through Blogging

Blogging is much more difficult than I expected. It’s not only attempting to write content that’s engaging. There’s grammar, punctuation, spelling, wording…and then there’s the self discovery. This one I was not prepared for.

In writing a blog about my life experiences I’ve been  forced to examine what I think, feel, and believe about everything. Since I’m a storyteller and not a fiction writer (there is a difference) I cannot, in good conscience, write lies to my readers.Truth be told (pun intended) I’m a horrible liar Period! Zero poker face.Gambling is not in my future.cannot tell a lie

I can sense a post straying from authenticity when I lose my ‘flow’. If I am completely at peace with my story the words tumble out so quickly that I can scarcely type fast enough to catch them on paper. The moment I dig up and Un Truth my words become forced. That’s when I know something about the subject hasn’t been settled. There’s anger or pain still lingering. Or the really fun discovery of how far away my perceptions were from reality. Man , I Hate that one!

perception vs reality

This truth telling endeavor has uncovered more self deception than I anticipated. Here are some examples of my most frequently used :

It’s not that bad

It didn’t really bother me

I’m fine

I should have known better

It’s my fault

When the truth is:

It WAS that bad

It more than bothered my. It was devastating

I was so Not fine

I  couldn’t see a better way

It wasn’t my fault

The thing about this Archaelogical Truth Excavation is that instead of being IN the situations I can now look AT them. When you’re IN something you can’t see all aspects of it. When you’re looking AT something you can take it all in , walk around it, away from it, observe it from afar. The distance allows me to assess the past more objectively and come to terms with it’s impact on my life both good and bad.

Another thing about a personal blog is that it’s so, well…..PERSONAL. I don’t get to look you in the eye while I narrate my life and discern whether or not I should censor something based on your smile or your recoil.I have No idea whose reading this, what their reaction is, or how they’re judging me. Imagine reading your diary out loud in front of a full auditorium wearing a bikini. *shudder*

Writing this blog has also been a test of my faith in God. I never would have begun this journey if He hadn’t nagged me relentlessly for about a year. Seriously, it was like a toddler saying “mama.mama.mama.mama.” Except it sounded like, “you gonna write it? How about now? Now? How about now? Now is good do it now”…To which my very mature response was,’FINE! If it gets you off my back I’ll do it!” I’ll bet God loves my obedient nature.

I really didn’t know who I was writing for or what the purpose was. I still don’t know who I might be helping or even if I am .Not worrying about that takes an incredible amount of trust in God. I want to write content that people will like. I’m a people pleaser. This is my thing. The minute I start obsessing over whether or not you guys will like it – I lose the flow. I have to give up control over it and let God do what He will with what He inspires me to write.

So here is the list of the Top 9 Things I’ve Discovered about Myself while Blogging:

  1. I’m impatient and impulsive. (Those of you who are already saying, ‘Duh!’ , Stop it.) This one is evidenced in how quickly I mash the Publish button before proofreading/improving a post.
  2. I’m still healing.  I’ve moved from Hot Mess to Lukewarm.
  3. I’m more confident than I realized. depends on the day.
  4. I’m more insecure than I realized. depends on the day.
  5. I still hate my ex husband. Like, a lot. I’ve tried so many times to write about him and my marriage. I can’t.It would just be hate mail. This ones a work in progress.
  6. My motives are not always where they should be I have to check my self on who I’m writing for. Me & you or God.
  7. I care too much what other people think. #peoplepleaser
  8. I don’t give a rip what other people think #recoveringpeoplepleaser
  9. Giving up control isn’t the same as losing control holding on tightly crushes things. Loosening your grip lets them expand.

There you have it. We’ve covered squashing self deception, being transparent, giving up control, and obedience. See how Fun this is?!! You can’t wait to start your blog now, can you?

In all honesty, (no pun intended) I love every minute of it. It’s challenging. It forces me to do something I’ve never done and to move ahead into unknown territory. This is exactly the kind of project that Thrills me! I thank all of you who stop by for sharing this journey with me. My deepest desire is that you find treasures that make you giggle or give you hope or maybe dislodge you from being stuck somewhere. It’s not easy in the least, but I can genuinely say – it’s worth it.

trust in the Lord

Dawn Chorus

I’m an early bird. There is something soul nourishing about being awake in the stillness. The crisp morning air . The scent of clean earth. There is so much hope and promise in a sunrise. Nothing has been done yet. No decisions or mistakes. No conversations that you wish you could do over. And the birdsong. I love the birdsong. I make my coffee (#priorities) and snuggle down in my favorite place; a big oversized chair in our living room that looks out through a bay window. In front of the window is a bird feeder. I can sit for hours just watching every sort of chickadee and sparrow flit down to peck a few seeds and fly away. They are a delight to watch and their plumage never ceases to amaze me. But it’s their song I love the most. Before the first rays appear, while it is still dark, they begin.

.bird singing

How do we sing in the shadowed places? The birds sing in anticipation of the first glimmers of dawn. Long before the arrival of the first light they sing with assurance the sun will rise again like it’s done thousands of times before. They sing of hope and faithfulness. Not every song is buoyant.Beside the joyful twitter of the bluebird is the haunting coo of the mourning dove.There have been so many times when I thought midnight would last forever.When my song was nothing more than the choked out sobs of despair. But I kept scanning the horizon, looking for the dimmest glow in anticipation of it’s arrival. It’s not that I’m the eternal optimist.(though my rose colored glasses are well used). It’s the fact that no matter my situation God has been faithful to me. Whether you sing a melody or a dirge I promise you God is listening and He is faithful to you when you call to Him. Always. Even when it feels like you’ve been singing for an eternity without an audience.

.flock of birds singing

Tomorrow morning I urge you to go outside and listen to the chorus. The lyrics intertwined, overlapped, a blended cacophony of unique warbles, twitters, and trills. Not one more important than the other This is their Dawn Chorus not a Dawn Solo. The birds don’t sing alone and we aren’t meant to either. We have to find our flock. When we intone our hymns of grief there will be others grieving with you. When we explode with uncontained joy there will be others who rejoice with us! Their voices lifting up our own song in solidarity. Find the ones who remember the light that came after their darkness. Those are flock. Your people. The ones who will help you remember the sunrises of your past.Search the horizon together and sing your Chorus of anticipation to the God who shines light in the dark.

God sunrise

Jesus and the Phone Charger

As Easter approaches my 10yr old son and I have had some interesting discussions about Jesus. He is a quick thinking, no nonsense type of child who appreciates a no nonsense, ‘real world application’ answer.Luckily, I happen to be fairly gifted in the area of metaphors.
His most recent question was this, ” What do we need Jesus for if we already have God?” “Well”, I answered, we needed someone to reconcile us with God; to take our sins away so that….” Looking at the blank stare on his face my sentence trailed off unfinished. I’m pretty sure I lost him somewhere around ‘reconcile’. Eager to capture this teachable moment I quickly rifled through my rolodex of Sunday school explanations. Spying my phone I had my lightbulb moment!
“Okay, pretend the cell phone is us and the wall plug is God. You know how you have to have a cord to get from the phone to the wall so that you can charge it? The cord is Jesus. In order for us to be connected with God, we needed a charger. Now, imagine that the phone has a glitch in it, but the Jesus charger takes all the glitches away so that it can absorb the power in the wall. At this point there is a light coming into my son’s eyes and he’s no longer playing with the remote. Ha! I’ve got him! So I continue.
“And you know how when we buy the cheap imitation chargers they break easily and take For Ev Er to charge the phone? But the original charger works every time and never fails? The cheap imitation chargers are like all the things in life that people chase instead of Jesus. Money, fame, false religions, girlfriends, cars…those are the imitation chargers and Jesus is the original. The imitations work ok for a while, but their power runs out pretty quickly and they can’t fix the glitches. In fact , sometimes they add more glitches because they weren’t meant for the phones in the first place. The original Jesus charger never lets us down, fixes the bugs and keeps us connected to the original power source; God.Does that make more sense?”Mentally I am now high fiving myself for this moment of parental brilliance amazed I could come up with something so simple yet so deep at 8pm after my glass of Sav Blanc.
Son,” Cool. Can I have a snack?”
And this, my friends, is what keeps me humble.

                                                    A Certain Kind of Courage

Courage is found in unlikely places;

in shattered dreams and tear stained faces.

Raising your hand in front of the class when you’re so afraid they are going to laugh.

Proclaiming the truth and exposing the lie.

Whispering secrets you’d locked inside.

Choosing to live when your loved one is dead and finding the will to get out of bed.

It’s seeking forgiveness

and asking for help.

It’s forcing a smile and facing yourself.

It’s shaky legs that stand up for the weak and the timid voice

that bravely squeaks.

It’s finding your dark and choosing the Light.

Loving yourself;

being able to cry.

It’s laying it all at your Saviour’s feet;

all of the messy and none of the neat.

Trusting His strength and His sovereign hand.

Having Peace in your journey without knowing the plans.

-C.Pay 2015

Everything I Know about Fighting I Learned from my Son

If you fell down yesterday stand up todayIf you met me today, you would say that I was a fighter. A strong woman who won’t take sass from anyone. Such was not always the case. I suppose I have always been competitive. In fact, I’m Sure I’ve always been competitive both with myself and others. We may be friends, but if you play a card game with me the gloves come off! 😉 Fighting however is a different matter altogether.  Being sexually abused stunted my growth in so many ways.I didn’t get the chance to learn to fight small skirmishes and build my stamina over the years. I lost the first battle. A huge battle. And the scars went to the core. Instead of coming out of it with my fists raised to the sky I learned to contract into myself. Curl into a little roly poly until the danger passes. If fighting and losing was going to hurt that badly then why do it at all.

Then I had my son. There’s something about holding a tiny defenseless baby that smells like heaven.Instinct and love tell you that you must do whatever it takes to protect this child. That’s what ‘good’ parents do, right? What if you don’t know how to fight? What if the idea of it grips you with terror? If my son asked me how I learned to fight, I’d tell him this:

From the time I was pregnant I fought the nausea, the weight gain, the labor pains. When they let me take you home, I fought the panic that I had no idea what I was doing.

I warred against insecurity, ignorance, and impatience.

Croup, ear infections,and teething became my world and I fought for sleep.I wrestled to comfort you, quiet you, soothe you to no avail.In the morning I went to work and fought to stay awake.

I fought to maintain your home in the face of my divorce and when your father threatened to abduct you, I fought to hide you and keep you safe in my arms.

As a single mom I struggled to support us, to find time with you between jobs, to make sure you felt loved and not left.

School was hard for you and I campaigned for your education, to understand you, to support you.

They diagnosed you soon with ADD and then with Bipolar disorder and I rose up against dread. I battled to get appointments, good doctors, the right medications. I pushed against their assumptions of your bleak future and counter argued with hope.I devoured every piece of information on mental illness and armed myself with knowledge.

As you slept at night and I sat by your bed and cried. I fought the fear that I could never be worthy of being the parent you needed. I cried out to God for the strength to be your champion.

I waged war with  broken school systems and burned out teachers. I stood strong during IEP meetings and counseling sessions. I became the parent who wouldn’t take back down because of bureaucracy.

I fought bad influences and bullies. Internet filth and video game overload.

In the most challenging combat I put myself as a barrier between you and your stepfather’s cruelty. Some battles I won, but too many were lost.  Paralyzing fear attempted to keep me down but with each encounter I slowly learned to stand for us.

I endeavored  to discipline you, teach you , love you, protect you. Sometimes; many times; from yourself.

I fought my own demons and dark.

I went to war on my knees in fervent prayer. Over and over and over.

I fought against you. You fought against me. And sometimes, we fought together.

When you became my prodigal son I fought to teach you responsibility, accountability, consequences. I fought to be a good parent (whatever that is)

You pulled away and I fought to be part of your world, to let you go without losing you, to accept your differences, and to make you know that my love was eternal.

Fighting for you gave me strength. Praying for you deepened my faith. With every blow I landed for you another one of my own demons went down and I found my armor, piece by piece. My son, I know I gave you life, but you gave me back mine.

affliction